A few years ago Steve and I had an ongoing conversation discussing friends. During this conversation Steve shared his need for them with me. He suggested we go out and meet people. He felt we needed friends to socialize and spend time with. My response was always, “Friends? Who needs them? What purpose do they serve? They do nothing but use you, abuse you and turn their backs on you or stab you in the back!” Steve felt my opinion was due to a low self-esteem on my part because of my weight and low self image. In part, he was correct but I knew it was something much deeper.
I had been hurt by friends. The pain of the betrayals was still a lingering force within the depths of my soul. Steve and I had acquaintances, people we knew but not intimately and I was content with that. As long as we were friendly without being friends, I felt safe.
In my mind I had decided that having friends meant sharing the intimate details of your life because you opened the happenings of your life, your thoughts and hearts to them. As your friendship grew you would come to care about them. Opening yourself up to them meant they would judge you and caring about them meant they would hurt you. So I was
determined that everyone was truly better satisfied and much happier with acquaintances and without friends.
As I was working on writing my book; I began to reflect on many of the experiences over the course of my life. I realized that as a result of the traumatic experiences of my childhood I had acquired the ability to suppress many of the emotions and much of the pain I endured as a result of them. I had buried much of it deep inside.
I shared this realization with my husband. I told him I had realized the fact that I had built a wall around myself to try to protect myself from being hurt. It was an inner mechanism designed to shield me from some of the pain. I had reached a point in my early years of not allowing myself to get close to people for the same reason; I was tired of
being hurt. Due to all the things I experienced as a child, I learned at an early age to suppress feelings and hide them away in order to try not to experience them.
I opened up to Steve and shared with him the agony I experience everyday knowing
that Hope is living the lifestyle she is living. Her choices terrify me! I live each and every day on the edge never knowing if today is going to be the day I receive a phone call that she has been found dead in a ditch someplace. Rather than experience that pain I tried to force it into a hiding place deep within me in order to avoid it.
As I was reading a book by Sheila Walsh a couple of days ago, “The Heartache No One Sees” she shared a conversation she had with her doctor. She and I suffered the same condition; There was a place in our hearts, a room of pain, where we had closed the door a long time ago and threw away the key. It was hard for us to let God love us. It was hard
for us to love ourselves or let anyone get close to us.
I also told Steve that his going to Afghanistan to work allowed me to label this skill of burying the pain. I called it my “function without feeling mode” an auto-pilot of sorts, where I could perform my daily functions while ignoring the pain of his absence. The pain was still there. I simply managed to suppress it, to hide it someplace deep inside of me while I ignored it to the best of my ability in order to prevent it from consuming me.
I was afraid that if I allowed myself to experience all of the pain inside me to the full extent it would send me spiraling into a pit of depression that I may never recover from. Since my childhood I had been locking all my pain away in a room somewhere in my heart as I walked through the vast majority of my life in a mode of functioning without feeling.
Granted, I did experience much of the pain. I ached. I suffered. The depths of my soul grieved sometimes to the point of feeling so consumed by it that I ached physically. There were so many times that I cried out “Lord, please just let me die! Please take me from this earth and into heaven where I can have peace!”
I truly believe that was the biggest reason that I did not write my book for so long. I did not want to have to unlock that room where all of the pain was locked away. I honestly do not believe I could have ever unlocked that room without first finding forgiveness in my heart for myself and others and understanding the depths of God’s love for me.
Jesus himself grieved. Therefore, I know He understands the depths of my pain. Do I still have pain? Yes I do. However, by receiving His forgiveness and love I have found a peace and reassurance that He is always with me and He will never leave me. It is a daily walk. I face each day knowing He is my comforter and the lover of my soul. He is my redeemer and my healer. He is there for each of us, loving us and waiting to offer us peace and healing. All we have to do is open our hearts to accept and receive His love.